On July 26, 2023

Giolito returns to KSAR as director

 

By Katy Savage

Killington’s search and rescue team (KSAR) has a familiar face as its new director.

Bob Giolito, 48, one of the founders of KSAR, returned to the organization as the volunteer director. He was appointed to the position at a Select Board meeting on Tuesday, July 11 to direct the program under Killington Police Chief Whit Montgomery. 

“We’re looking forward to building it back,” Montgomery said. 

KSAR has returned after it was abruptly taken offline by the former Fire Chief Chris LaHart in March.

Most of the KSAR team quit or were fired at that time and joined Rescue, Inc. based in Brattleboro. 

Both Montgomery and Giolioto are pledging to move on from the tumultuous past five months.  

“We’re hitting a reset button here,” Giolito said. “For the most part, everyone’s heart has been in the right place who do this kind of work. They obviously do good work.” 

The Select Board voted last month to move KSAR from the fire department to the police department under Montgomery. Both Motgomery and Giolito have said they will work with Rescue, Inc. on calls that require more help.

“The more people you have, the more resources you have,” Giolito said.  

Giolito grew up in New Jersey and got interested in the backcountry when his dad “just dropped” him off at Mount Snow.

He eventually taught skiing at Mount Snow in high school before he moved to Colorado for college. While in college, in 1996, he started a search and rescue team. He then started guiding rock and ice climbers after he graduated. 

Giolito moved back to Vermont over 20 years ago and has two decades of experience with the Vermont State Police. He oversaw the canine program and was a member of the state police search and rescue team. 

Giolito is now the lieutenant with the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles. He teaches wilderness medicine and first aid on the side and he’s a ski patroller and  owner of Killington Mountain Guides, LLC.

“We’re pretty lucky to have someone with that type of experience,” said Montgomery. “It fits the need and demand of that position.” 

It’s a full circle moment for KSAR. Montgomery and Giolito were the original founders of KSAR back in 2012. 

The program formed just after 19-year-old Levi Duclos of New Haven was found dead of hypothermia after he went out for a trail run in the winter near Emily Proctor Trail in Ripton. Vermont State Police were notified he was missing the night before but opted to not search for the hiker until the following morning.The lack of communication led to the creation of a rescue coordinator position within the state Department of Public Safety. Many towns formed their own rescue departments at that time. Giolito, who was a state trooper at the time, was one of the leaders of the search for Duclos. 

“Based on that event I decided to start a team in this area,” Giolito said. 

 Giolito was with KSAR for four years until he left to focus on police work while Montgomery was with the program for about a year.

Now, KSAR has 17 members. Giolito is requiring KSAR volunteers to have a medical certification and be trained in CPR, first aid or wilderness first aid at minimum. 

He’s following a model used by the County Sheriffs of Colorado and has consulted with Mountain Rescue Service in Conway, New Hampshire to get advice.

“I’m going to try to get it going,” Giolito said.

The KSAR program will be focused on helping hikers and backcountry skiers. They may add a canine program or low angle rescue program to the future. 

“We’d love to go off in other directions, which are well underway,” Montgomery said.

KSAR has been activated twice so far under Montgomery’s leadership. 

KSAR checked on an elderly man at Sunrise Mountain Village July 7 after flooding in Killington caused power outages. 

On July 23, a couple members of KSAR were called to help a person hiking the Appalachain Trail who was too exhausted to walk out on their own. KSAR members responded on an ATV. 

“They were not injured but they were too exhausted to move any further,” Montgomery said.

Giolito was the only person Montgomery considered for the position.

“He knows what it takes,” Montgomery said.  “We’re in the rebuilding phase.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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